Caring for Your Countertops and Your Health: A Guide to Sanitizing Natural and Engineered Stone
by Carmel Stone Imports
During the present pandemic, you may be wary of remodeling your home. However, you should know that many companies and contractors are doing their utmost to keep you safe and still give your home a face lift. One of the things you might have installed is natural or engineered stone countertops, which are as beautiful as they are functional. If you do have stone countertops installed, you should also know how to care for them.
Cleaning Natural Stone Countertops
Natural stone counters are a lot more porous than you might expect. To remove some of that porosity so that spilled liquids cannot stain your counters, the natural stone is polished to a shine and then coated with a protective coating. If properly cleaned, disinfected and cared for, the protective coating remains. If not, then the coating thins and dulls and the natural stone turns into a mess.
To clean these stone counters, you only need warm soap and water and a soft, non-abrasive cloth or sponge. If you want to disinfect, rubbing alcohol of a concentrate of 70% is all you need to use. This rubbing alcohol is the stuff you buy from any store that sells first aid supplies. In reality, you don’t even need to disinfect real stone because it manages on its own. Unless you have a person diagnosed with a serious contagion (i.e., COVID-19), you do not have to use the rubbing alcohol every day. Once or twice a week is enough.
Additionally, you should never use bleach. You should never use any really harsh chemicals or abrasive materials to clean. They will etch and scratch stone.
Engineered Stone Counters
Engineered stone counters are stone in principle, but are not quite like real stone. Essentially stone counter manufacturers take natural products and grind them up. Then they use a binder to cement the powdered stone back together to form stone slabs. It is very similar to MDF (medium-density fiber board) wood.
Engineered stone counters are in many ways easier to clean than the natural marble or quartz. (Their many brilliant colors and patterns make them very popular as a countertop material too.) Even better, these countertops are the easiest of all to clean and sanitize.
To sanitize stone of the manufactured type, you can use a mild and highly diluted bleach, vinegar cleaner, or other multipurpose “stone cleaner” to clean and sanitize. Spray on, leave it on for about thirty seconds to a minute, and then wipe it off. This type of stone counter never stains, scratches/etches, or is porous to the point where you have to worry about deadly bacteria or viruses.
Disinfecting stone counters means that you are using a product that will kill all bacteria, fungi, and viruses. This is what you really want in a cleaner, but it has to be safe on stone. Be sure to read cleaning labels as it will tell you whether or not it is good for stone or manufactured stone counters. Again, rubbing alcohol is the best overall product for disinfection of these new countertops in your home, but you can also buy specialty cleaners from your countertop sales and installation expert.
In the event that you want to try a new cleaner on your counters, test a small area out of sight first. You want to be sure a cleaner will not strip the seal from the stone or dull the finish. A cleaner should not discolor your stone countertop either. If it does, back away and go back to what you know works and what you should be using to clean your new granite, quartz, marble, etc., countertops.